After $12m in cost to the tax payer only Tommy Chong was sent to prison
On the chilly morning of Feb 24th, 2003 at the Department of Justice, then led by Attorney General John Ashcroft, the communications team was was gearing up a press release announcing the largest movement against the functional glass community ever in what was dubbed “Operation Pipe Dreams”. Along with sister-operation Headhunter out of Iowa, the indictment of 55 individuals were all carried out on the same day across multiple states on charges of trafficking illegal drug paraphernalia.
Mary Beth Buchanan, the U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh at the time whose office led the investigation alongside the US Drug Enforcement Agency by using a case against a smokeshop owner in Pittsburgh to target suppliers.
Longtime CHAMPS exhibitor and glass artist Jason Harris remembers that morning well. “I woke up at 6:00 a.m. in the morning with someone banging on my door and saw the massive amount of police and army people at my house,” Jason explains. “I got hogtied and arrested and I didn’t actually know what was going on until I got to the jail cell and was watching T.V. in jail and realized there was a much larger issue than I was aware of.” he told Huffington Post back in 2013.
In the end only one person would receive a prison sentence as a result of the $12 million / 2,000 officer multi-state operation by the Department of Justice, and that man neither sold nor distributed anything himself. This man was Thomas B. Kin Chong better known as Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame. Tommy was actually financing and promoting a company utilizing his likeness, Chong Glass Works/Nice Dreams, ran by his son Paris.
As part of a plea bargain to prevent prosecution of either Paris or his wife Shelby, Tommy agreed to 9 months in federal prison, a fine of $20,000, forfeiture of $103,000, and one year of probation.
In the 18 years since that fateful Feb morning there have been drastic changes in the legal landscape on the state level as it relates to cannabis and accessories, but the federal government has still been problematic for businesses as seen with the recent PACT Act which has caused cascading problems.
Listed below are the original indictments during Operation Pipe Dreams and Operation Headhunter. #AlwaysRemember
OPERATION PIPE DREAMS
The individuals that were named in the original indictments:
- Joyce J. Adamy, a/k/a Joyce J. Kunkle, and d/b/a Phantasm, age 27, of Johnstown, PA.;
- Jodey P. Bayle, d/b/a Pipe Emporium, d/b/a Sunrise Distribution, and d/b/a Pipesforyou.com, 48, of Erie, PA.;
- Glen W. Beers, d/b/a G.W. Pipedreams, 29, of Clarion, PA.;
- William A. Conover, d/b/a B&M Variety, 42, of Erie, PA.;
- Christina A. Cummings, d/b/a Phantasm, 28, of Johnstown, PA.;
- Michael Anthony Deblasio, d/b/a Heads-N-Threads, 24, of North Huntingdon, PA.;
- Jason Robert Harris, d/b/a Jerome Baker Designs, Inc., d/b/a Ghettoweb, Inc., d/b/a Universal Glass, Inc., d/b/a Jeromebaker.com, d/b/a Ghettoweb.com, d/b/a Smokelab.com, and d/b/a Higher Source, 32, of Eugene, OR.;
- Richard Kevin Jaussen, d/b/a Tela Ropa, Inc., 48, of Pittsburgh, PA.;
- Ara Melkizian, d/b/a Omnilounge L.L.C., and d/b/a Omnilounge.com, 29, of North Hollywood, CA.;
- Saeed Mohtadi, d/b/a Jerome Baker Designs, Inc., d/b/a Ghettoweb, Inc., d/b/a Universal Glass, Inc., d/b/a Jeromebaker.com, d/b/a Ghettoweb.com, d/b/a Smokelab.com, and d/b/a Higher Source, 32, of Eugene, OR.;
- John Matthew Patrick, d/b/a California Colorchangers, Inc., and d/b/a Colorchangingglass.com, 38, of Forestville, CA.;
- Randolph Przekop, d/b/a Slacker, Inc., 36, of Pittsburgh, PA.;
- Ahmad Rakine, d/b/a A&E Wholesalers, Inc., 20, of Pembroke Pines, FL.;
- Eric M. Rodgers, d/b/a Stone Artworx, Inc., 32, of Phoenix, AZ.;
- Edward Ian Rothschild, d/b/a Edward Rothschild Entertainment, Inc., d/b/a Rothschild Consulting, Inc., d/b/a Gothic Dungeon, d/b/a 420now.com, d/b/a 420smile.com, d/b/a Gothicdungeon.com, d/b/a Testingfree.com, and d/b/a Themallusa.com, 48, of Columbia, SC;
- David V. Stone, d/b/a Stone Artworx, Inc., 38, of Phoenix, AZ.;
- Mary Louise Stone, d/b/a Stone Artworx, Inc., 58, of Glendale, AZ.;
- Ryan Vaughn Struble, d/b/a Headcase, and d/b/a Aheadcase.com, 30, of Diamond Bar, CA;
- Ryan Teurfs, d/b/a 101 North Glass, Inc., d/b/a The Glass House, and d/b/a 101north.net, 29, of Arcata, CA.;
- Inez M. Thompson, d/b/a Pipe Emporium, d/b/a Sunrise Distribution, and d/b/a Pipesforyou.com, 48, of Erie, PA.;
- Jason Vrbas, d/b/a 101 North Glass, Inc., d/b/a The Glass House, and d/b/a 101north.net, 29, of Arcata, CA.;
- John Lee Walker, a/k/a John Lee Walker, Jr., d/b/a Headcase, and d/b/a Aheadcase.com, 35, of Riverside, CA.;
- Gabriel Watson, d/b/a 101 North Glass, Inc., d/b/a The Glass House, and d/b/a 101north.net, 29, of Arcata, CA.;
- Anthony Yanow, d/b/a Hot Comet Enterprises, d/b/a Puff Pipes, d/b/a Atmospheres Lifestyles of LA, and d/b/a Puffpipes.com, 31, of Los Angeles, CA;
- Waleed A. Zahrieh, d/b/a Wicked Corp. and d/b/a Sands of Time, 37, of, Los Gatos, CA.;
- Nessar David Zahriya, d/b/a Wicked Corp. and d/b/a Sands of Time, 39, of San Mateo, CA.; and
- Tracie Lynn Zimmerman, d/b/a Heads-N-Threads, 34, of North Huntingdon, PA.
National Distributors Named In The Indictments
The following persons indicted operated businesses based in California:
- Melkizian operated Omnilounge L.L.C. which also did business over the internet as omnilounge.com.
- Patrick was charged as the operator of California Colorchangers, which did business as colorchangingglass.com.
- Teurfs, Vrbas and Watson operated another internet company named 101north.net, which also did business as 101 North Glass and The Glass House.
- Yanow has been indicted for running puffpipes.com, which also did business as Hot Comet Enterprises and Atmospheres Lifestyles of L.A.
- Struble and Walker were charged with operating aheadcase.com, also known as Headcase.
- Zahriya and Zahrieh were indicted in conjunction with their operation of the Sands of Time and its successor business, Wicked Corporation.
The individuals who ran the four other national operations charged were:
- Rothschild did business under all of the names listed above, and Gothic Dungeon in Columbia, SC;
- Rakine operated A&E Wholesalers in Pembroke Pines, FL.;
- CStone, Stone and Rodgers ran Stone Artworx in Phoenix, AZ.; and
- Harris and Mohtadi owned Jerome Baker Designs and the other companies in Eugene, OR.
Pennsylvania Regional Retail Shops Named In The Indictment:
- Beers, G.W. Pipedreams, Clarion
- Conover, B&M Variety, Erie
- Jaussen, Tela Ropa, Pittsburgh
- Thompson and Bayle, Pipe Emporium, Sunrise Distribution and pipesforyou.com, Erie
- Zimmerman and Deblasio, Heads-N-Threads, North Huntingdon
- Adamy and Cummings, Phantasm, Johnstown
- Przekop, Slacker, Inc., Pittsburgh
Southern District Of Iowa Indicted:
- Alan Bruce Clute, a/k/a Bruce Clute, Lawrence Charles Bowman, and Smoky Mountain Trading Co, d/b/a Dream Factory Boutique and d/b/a Strange Daze Boutique, of Detroit, MI.
- Jose Corona Zavala, Jr., Juan Luis Zavala, Clinton Lee Goodson, and The Other Side, d/b/a The Crush, d/b/a The Worx, d/b/a The Bomb, d/b/a Toys in the Attic and d/b/a Artistic Alchemy Manufacturing, of Sacramento and North Hollywood, CA.
- Amanda Claire Ballard, a/k/a Amanda Claire Irwin, a/k/a Mandi Claire Ballard, a/k/a Mandi Claire Irwin, Allison Blakely Ballard, and Acme Distributing and Mfg., d/b/a Acme Distributing, d/b/a Smoke Stax and d/b/a A & M Gifts, of Houston, TX.
- Catherine Nicole Adamson, Bruce Dean Ross and Grow Industries, d/b/a Zong Toy Company, d/b/a Zong Industries, d/b/a ZTC, d/b/a Seedless and d/b/a Seedless Clothing Company Shea Artis McComb, of San Diego, CA.